Can Microsoft Take The Lead in RPA?
The use of Robotic Process Automation (RPA) has exploded in recent years and although some analysts called much of this growth hype there have been many examples and case studies that show the RPA market really is developing fast. One of the most conservative commentators – Hfs Research – even noted that growth in 2018 exceeded their own estimates so this growth is real.
More recent estimates looking to the next few years have stated that we can expect to see market growth of just over 20% each year out to 2025. QY Research notes that there are some specific trends developing in the near future too:
- Due to high technology development and the involvement of developed countries, North America accounts for the largest share in the market for robotic process automation.
- Europe is one of the leading players on the robotic process automation market. Countries like the U.K., Germany, and Italy, due to the rich manufacturing and automotive industry are the major contributors to market growth.
- Asia-Pacific is expected to emerge during the forecast period as the fastest growing market. Development of Asian countries and demand for consumer electronic goods compels manufacturers to implement in the manufacturing process a cost-effective technology.
But there is one big RPA story that I have not seen covered by many of the analysts and that is that there is a big new player in town – Microsoft. At present, there are over 20 commercial RPA providers around and the top 5 or 6 of them are scooping up most projects, but will Microsoft change the dynamic of which software companies are using?
VentureBeat published a very interesting analysis of the Microsoft plans and they believe it goes far beyond just RPA alone. RPA is starting to define how companies design the software they use (it’s more like a platform) so any company offering RPA solutions has the opportunity to also design other solutions too.
However, on the downside, the Power Automate system from Microsoft does not yet have as many features as the existing leading RPA software suppliers. Naturally, they will work hard to catch up, but at the same time, the leaders can keep improving and adding even more features.
Microsoft is coming from behind on RPA as the market is already quite well established. Many will also want to see them update their software, to move through a few versions before trusting it. For these reasons, I think that there is the potential for change in the RPA market, but if it happens it will be a couple of years from now. In 2020 it will be the existing important players that keep leading.